When most people think of radiologists, they picture doctors peering at backlit X-rays. But interventional radiologists like Sanjeeva Kalva, M.D., work inside the body, making crucial repairs that can eliminate the need for traditional surgery.
What I really admire about UT Southwestern is that people are willing to accept new ideas –and they’re interested in a team-level approach for patients."
Using thin, flexible catheters inserted into blood vessels and watching with real-time ultrasound or X-rays, these physicians perform sophisticated procedures through small incisions. Minimally invasive techniques like these can treat everything from a bleeding stomach to varicose veins to cancer.
“We can treat very complex vascular problems with minimal surgical procedures,” Dr. Kalva says. “Within a short time you’re done, and the patient often goes home the next day.”
Dr. Kalva, who is UT Southwestern’s Chief of Interventional Radiology, has years of experience with standard, underutilized, and cutting-edge interventional radiology techniques. He is one of the world’s foremost authorities on minimally invasive treatments for liver cancer.
In chemoembolization with drug-eluting beads, the radiologist places tiny spheres into the cancerous part of the liver; the spheres stick in place and gradually release high-dose chemotherapy to that area only. “This is the gentlest chemotherapy we can offer for liver tumors,” he says.
Similarly, yttrium-90 radioembolization uses beads to deliver radiation directly to a tumor, limiting exposure to healthy areas. Dr. Kalva also uses interventional radiology techniques to treat portal hypertension, a common result of cirrhosis of the liver.
But Dr. Kalva’s practice goes beyond the liver to touch on nearly every part of the body. He and his colleagues retrieve blood clots from veins, shrink uterine fibroids, stop bleeding in the bowel and lung, and repair aneurysms. He stents narrowed arteries in the legs, relieving the symptoms of peripheral artery disease like pain and cramping. In a technique called venous sampling, he tests the blood that flows near the endocrine glands in patients with endocrine tumors to determine which gland is pumping out excessive hormone. For varicose vein sufferers, Dr. Kalva offers sclerotherapy, phlebectomy, and laser ablation procedures.
For gastric varices, or dangerously dilated stomach veins that can accompany cirrhosis, Dr. Kalva offers not only the standard procedure but also balloon-occluded retrograde transvenous obliteration (BRTO). Although this technique is widely used in Japan and South Korea, few American practitioners have mastered it.